Story of Shame

Brené Brown did a TED Talk in 2012 entitled “Listening to Shame” that has had over 10 million views. Her TED Talk hit a nerve about shame that seems to resonate with each generation.  I’m curious if it resonates with you.   


It’s easy to recognize that shame can be good or bad. Shame can legitimately awaken us to actions in our lives that are not healthy and we need to be aware of, and for that we can be thankful. However, it is not the legitimate function of shame that usually dominates the lives of people, it is usually the feelings that occupy our thoughts after forgiveness has been given. The distinction has been made between guilt and shame. Guilt makes us feel bad for something we have done, and shame makes us feel bad for who we are.


 What is it about the story of shame that seems to never grow old? Curt Thompson in his book “The Soul of Shame”, reflects on the idea that the story of shame is woven into who we are as a human race. The story of shame is interwoven with the stories we tell about ourselves and the stories we tell about God.


Thompson sees a connection between the story of shame in our lives and the story of struggle between God’s working with mankind and the power of evil. He makes the statement that, “shame is not just a consequence of something our first parents did in the Garden of Eden. It is the emotional weapon that evil uses to corrupt our relationships with God and each other, and disintegrate any and all gifts of vocational vision and creativity.”


What I appreciate about Curt Thompson and Brené Brown, is their message that the story of shame in our lives isn’t resolved in the privacy of our lives and personal reflection. Thompson communicates clearly that shame is dealt with within a spiritual context where there is prayer, conversation, and community.